You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~Eat Some, Freeze Some -- A Big Batch of Meatballs~

6a0120a8551282970b01a73d909620970dEverybody loves meatballs, and, the night the family is eating spaghetti and meatballs for dinner is the most popular day in the weekly meal rotation.  For Italian-American families, that dinner is typically reserved for Sunday.  Tender, juicy, flavor-packed meatballs get slow-simmered in a pot of "gravy" (meaning red sauce), and, every Italian-American family claims to have the best, handed-down-for-generations, recipe for "polpette" (meaning "meatballs").  Enough said.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39a0a57200cMeatballs are a universal food, and, almost every culture has their own name for them and way to serve them using spices and sauces common to their cuisine.  They come in all sizes too:  tiny, pop-in-your-mouth sized ones served at coctail parties or put into soups; medium-sized ones served as an accompaniment to pasta or put in submarine-type sandwiches; and, large near baseball-sized ones served as a main course -- yep some people really do make them that large.  While meatballs aren't Italian per se, I'm pretty certain when most of us think of meatballs, we associate them with the pillowy-soft, melt-in-your-mouth, meatballs covered in red sauce of the Italian-American kind.  And, just like other cultures brought their meatball recipes with them, the Italian immigrants brought their traditional family meatball recipes to America with them.  That said, back in Italy, meatballs were not (initially) served with spaghetti.  They were served alone, as a meatball course, as was the pasta, as a pasta course, and the salad, as a salad course, etc.  These two items began being served together in Italian restaurants to appease Americans who wanted meat served with their pasta -- some changes really are for the better.

Here's my family's best Italian-American polpette recipe:

IMG_4382For the basic meat mixture:

4  pounds lean ground meat (90/10)

4  pounds pork tenderloin

12  ounces finely diced onion

For the wet mixture & seasonings:

12 ounces saltine crackers (6 crackers shy of 3 sleeves)

8  jumbo eggs

1  cup milk

2  teaspoons Italian seasoning blend

2  teaspoons sea salt

2  teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

4  ounces fine-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 cup)

For forming and frying:

1  24-ounce container plain, dry breadcrumbs

corn or peanut oil for frying

IMG_4388 IMG_4388~ Step 1.  To make the meat mixture, place all three ingredients in a very large bowl (the ground beef, ground pork and diced onion) and thoroughly combine.  The quickest and easiest way way to do this is with your hands.  Set mixture aside.

IMG_4393 IMG_4393 IMG_4393 IMG_4393 IMG_4393 IMG_4393 IMG_4393~Step 2.  To make the wet mixture, place crackers in a large-capacity food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Using a series of about 30 rapid on-off pulses, process the crackers to crumbs.  Open the lid of the processor and add the eggs, milk, Italian seasoning, sea salt and coarse-grind pepper.  Close the lid and with the motor running, process until the mixture is smooth, thick and pasty, about 15-20 seconds. Open the lid of the processor and add the fine-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Close the lid and process until the cheese is thoroughly incorporated, an additional 15-20 seconds.

IMG_4410 IMG_4410 IMG_4410~ Step 3. Transfer wet mixture to meat mixture. Using hands, thoroughly combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2-3 hours or overnight, to allow the flavors time to marry.  Uncover and briefly remix.

Forming, Frying & Freezing Meatballs:

The above meatball mixture, which is simple and straight-forward, makes a lot, about ten dozen. It takes no extra time to mix this big batch, just about 30 minutes of extra frying time, which is a small sacrifice considering the outcome.  Once the meatballs are fried, I portion and freeze them (unsauced), enough for 6-8 meals.  My method for frying meatballs, however, requires one extra, old and authentic step.  It is a step many American cooks don't know about, or skip.  The formed meatballs get rolled in breadcrumbs prior to frying.  This produces a lovely crisp, golden brown breadcrumb crust.  These are indeed, moist, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth incredible meatballs.

IMG_4417 IMG_4417~ Step 1.  Using a 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place meatballs on 2 large, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans.  Cover with plastic wrap, and keep covered until you're ready to roll them in breadcrumbs and fry.  I fry my meatballs in my electric skillet -- it controls the temperature perfectly, and, is about the same size as a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole, which makes this similar-sized perfect to use as a vessel to hold the breadcrumbs.

IMG_4427 IMG_4427 IMG_4427Step 2.  Place about 2 cups of breadcrumbs in the bottom of a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish -- add additional breadcrumbs as necessary throughout the process.  Place a scant 1/4" of oil in the bottom of an electric skillet and preheat to 275°.  Note:  In the case of my electric skillet, you can see that a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish is the perfect gauge for how many meatballs to fry at one time.  Do not overcrowd the skillet.

IMG_4435 IMG_4435 IMG_4435~ Step 3.  Place about 12-16 meatballs in the breadcrumbs and roll to coat.  When all are coated, place them in the preheated skillet. Fry, until browned on both sides, but NOT completely cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Do not overcook meatballs.  Using a pair of tongs remove from skillet and place in a large, flat-bottomed, paper-towel-lined disposable aluminum roasting pan to drain.

IMG_4444 IMG_4444 IMG_4444~ Step 4. Refrigerate meatballs on parchment-lined baking pans for 1-2 hours -- chilling prior to freezing prevents freezer burn. To freeze, I portion and place them onto inexpensive, disposable food service plates or trays that I buy at our local Sam's club.  Each tray gets double or triple wrapped in plastic, then placed in a food storage bag.  Lastly, I stack the trays neatly on top of each other in my freezer.

Drop frozen meatballs into sauce & simmer 10-12 minutes:

6a0120a8551282970b01a73d90917c970dEat Some, Freeze Some -- A Big Batch of Meatballs:  Recipe yields 10+ dozen meatballs.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; very large mixing bowl; large-capacity food processor; 1-cup measuring container; large rubber spatula; plastic wrap; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish; electric skillet or large nonstick skillet; small fork; tongs; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b0133f33a94bc970bCook's Note:  To cook freshly-made lightly-sautéed or frozen (unthawed) meatballs, drop them into your favorite red sauce that is simmering in a chef's pan, saucepan or stockpot.  Gently simmer until just cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Need a sauce recipe?  Try my recipe for ~ Mel's Fresh & Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce (Marinara) ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment